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The General Coordinator of the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil (MST), João Pedro Stédile, considers that the agrarian reform process during Dilma Rousseff´s administration has been “shameful” and announced that a new agrarian plan will be introduced by the movement in February at its National Congress.
He also said that a popular consultation about the need for political reform will take place on September 7 (National Independence Day), according to an interview published on Monday by the Brazilian Press Association (ABI), conducted by journalist Mário Augusto Jakobskind.
“Unfortunately, the balance of the agrarian reform during Dilma (Rousseff)´s administration is negative. Shameful, I´d say. Because in 2013, only 4700 families benefited from the expropriation of lands, which is less than what General Figueiredo did during his last year in office”, said Stédile. (João Figueiredo ruled Brazil from 1979 to 1985, the last period of the 1964-1985 Dictatorship).
Stédile believes agrarian reform is “at a standstill”, and therefore, land ownership concentration and the advance of capital over agriculture are increasing. The leader considers there are several factors contributing to this situation. “First, there is a huge influx of international capital over Brazilian natural resources. They come here, escaping from the global crisis and invest their speculative capital in lands, ethanol, hydroelectric dams, and even carbon credits, with property titles over the oxygen in our forests”. “The increasing price of commodities, caused by speculation, has made the rural sector very profitable, which attracted many capitalists and raised the price of land”, he added.
Stédile highlighted that the Brazilian bourgeois media “led by Globo, Veja and their vehicles” has opened the doors to the false opinion that agribusiness is “the best of the best”. Lastly, the MST leader recognized that as a consequence of an adverse correlation of forces, the working class has been left paralyzed and the large occupations of lands and countryside mobilizations have decreased.
“The international and financial capital takes over our natural resources and agriculture through its economic arm: transnational agribusiness corporations. They control inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, they control technology, machinery and the commodities market, imposing their prices and grabbing most of the profits generated by agriculture”, said the MST leader. “Therefore, for each agricultural sector there is an oligopoly of transnational corporations in control. For instance, we have Monsanto, Cargill, Bunge, ADM and Dreyfuss in the grain sector. We have Nestlé, Parmalat and Danone in dairy, and four or five companies in cellulose, and so on. “And their power is so huge that the government does not control them and learns about their operations through the media”, he regretted.
The MST leader said the movement´s expectations are to continue massive mobilizations in Brazil this year, so that the policies are discussed on the streets. The MST and rural social movements are part of a large plenary of Brazilian social movements that are pushing towards a series of debates about the need for political reform for the country, according to Stédile. “Let´s debate with the people what they want to change in politics. And make the people see that the changes needed by the country have to do with a political reform, in order to have democracy”, he added. “On September 7, 2014, we will have a popular consultation to ask the people if they want a sovereign and exclusive Constituent Assembly to be convened. And then we can bring the results to Brasilia (capital city of the country) in a huge mobilization to pressure the three branches”, he added.
The MST leader considered that the current model of “lulism” (after former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, from the Workers Party, -Rouseff´s party) “of a government that is liked by everybody”, has reached its end. The changes from now on in order to improve health, education, public transportation conditions and agrarian reform depend on structural reforms, according to Stédile. We need to redirect the funds that are now directed to banks, conduct a fiscal reform and change election rules, among other ideas expressed by Stédile. Currently, authorities and members of parliament are hostages of the companies that fund their campaigns, he stated. “All this can only be changed with political reform, and political reform can only be achieved if the people take the streets”.
About the MST´s national congress (to be held in Brasilia, February 10-14) Stédile said that “it is just an event that puts an end to a long process of discussions held in the past two years by our constituents and all MST sectors and spaces”. They expect over 15,000 activists to arrive to Brasilia to celebrate “the unity built around new ideas discussed in these two years”.
The leader said that one of the main ideas is that the MST needs a new agrarian reform plan; a plan that is interesting not only to peasants or landless workers, but to the entire society. “An agrarian reform that not only deals with saving those without land, but that prioritizes the production of healthy food, without agrotoxics. That works on a new technological agroecology system that is able to produce without unbalancing nature”. This and other ideas are expressed in the new agrarian plan of the MST that will be announced in Brasilia, in February.
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